Vitamin K (sometimes referred to as “the forgotten vitamin”) is an often overlooked fat soluble vitamin that is in fact more vital than calcium for bone health, and more difficult to obtain through diet, as it also requires optimal digestive function. In addition to the essential blood clotting function, it is vital for preventing bone loss and osteoporosis which is a confusing and often conflicting minefield of information to wade through. Dr. Robert Thompson, M.D., wrote an entire book on this subject called The Calcium Lie which explains that bone is comprised of at least a dozen minerals and to focus exclusively on calcium supplements is likely to worsen bone density and increase your risk of developing osteoporosis! Mary-Lou Harris, Head Nutritionist of the New You Boot Camp, supports Dr. Thompson’s recommendation to use unprocessed salt (Mary-Lou recommends the pink, highly mineralised ‘Himalayan Crystal Salt’ as a far healthier alternative to calcium supplementation, as it feeds your body the trace minerals it needs to function properly.
Recent evidence suggests that if vitamin K, or vitamin D are deficient, neither works optimally in your body. These vitamins dance together as key players in your overall wellbeing and bone health. According world top vitamin K researcher, Dr. Cees Vermeer, nearly everyone is deficient in both vitamins D and K.
The health benefits of vitamin D can also not be overstressed Despite what you may have heard, appropriate sunshine exposure is essential. Just 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure per day can make a dramatic improvement in your mental, immune and bone health. Alternatively, take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Typical adult doses for vitamin D range from 5 to 10,000 units per day. Remember to monitor your vitamin D levels
Vitamin K promotes bone health by working on a protein produced by your osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation) called Osteocalcin. It is utilised within the bone as an integral part of the bone-forming process. Vitamin K2 has been found to be a far more effective “activator” of osteocalcin than K1. Vitamin K2 is the biological glue that plugs calcium into your bone matrix.
The vitamin K most recommend for supplementation is vitamin K2, which is natural and not toxic. Vitamin K2 is made in your body from vitamin K1, and also produced by fermented foods. Foods that increase K2 in your diet are raw butter, kefir, and sauerkraut, Natto, Miso, tempeh, whole egg mayonnaise, lamb or duck*, beef liver*, dark turkey meat*, and chicken liver*. Eating lots of green vegetables will increase your vitamin K1 levels naturally, and contribute to K2 formation, especially kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
(*The K2 content of pasteurised dairy and products from confined animal feeding operations, (most commercial sources), are NOT high in K2 and should be avoided. Only grass fed animals (not grain fed) will develop naturally high K2 levels)
As mentioned earlier, your gut plays a crucial role in vitamin K and subsequently bone health Is your stomach often upset? Undiagnosed gluten intolerance is a common problem and is associated with symptoms like chronic wind (flatulence), nausea, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and brain fog. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. This means that your body is unable to optimally take nutrients from food and distribute them throughout your body, which can lead to osteoporosis. Furthermore, eating processed and fast foods (such as potato chips, french fries, microwaveable “meals”, soft drinks and sweets and sugary foods ) are the worst foods you can put into your mouth if you are trying to maintain healthy bone strength as they contain very little nutrients and are full of indigestible fats and dangerous additives such as preservatives, the dangerous high fructose corn syrup, and aspartame. Prevent osteoporosis by eating a wide variety of organic vegetables to get a proper balance of essential vitamins and minerals into your body. Easy ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet is by eating more soups, stews, vegetable bakes and juicing moderately (depending on your health state). According to a study done on the effect of onions on laboratory rats proved that white onions are shown to help decrease bone loss and osteoporosis.
If you experience any of the following conditions you may have an increased need of vitamin K: Eating a poor or restricted diet; Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease and other conditions that interfere with nutrient absorption; Liver disease that interferes with vitamin K storage; Taking drugs such as broad-spectrum antibiotics, cholesterol drugs and aspirin
Unfortunately, many of the drugs touted to strengthen bones will merely thicken, but actually weaken the bones as they work by killing off certain cells in your bones called osteoclasts, which destroy the bone as part of the natural bone regeneration process, leaving you with only osteoblasts, which increases bone density but not bone strength. This results in thicker bones with less strength, which actually increases your risk of bone fractures.
Outstanding research shows the protective effects of vitamin K2 against osteoporosis:
A number of Japanese trials show that vitamin K2 completely reverses bone loss and in some cases even increases bone mass in people with osteoporosis .
Pooled evidence of seven Japanese trials show that vitamin K2 supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures .
Researchers in the Netherlands showed that vitamin K2 is three times more effective than vitamin K1 in raising osteocalcin, which controls the building of bone.
Even if you are consuming enough K1 from green vegetables, your body uses most of it to make clotting factors, leaving insufficient quantities to convert to K2 for your bones. To put it another way, your liver prefers vitamin K1 to activate clotting factors, while most of your other tissues prefer to use K2. Remember, vitamin K is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it, so do NOT eat a low fat diet, which Mary-Lou and New You Boot Camp do not promote anyway. She says Science is increasingly showing us the error of our old ways, and low fat diets are overwhelmingly being revealed to be one of them!
Science also clearly shows that Exercise Prevents Bone Loss. Your bones are very porous and soft, and as you get older if you are inactive, they can easily become less dense and hence, more brittle. Resistance training can combat this effect because as you put more tension on your muscles it puts more pressure on your bones, which then respond by continuously creating fresh, new bone. In addition, as you build more muscle, and make the muscle that you already have stronger, you also put more constant pressure on your bones. At boot camp, their expert military trained PTIs will train and teach you to use the best weight bearing exercises to incorporate into your routine.
Low bone mass has a surprising connection to Alzheimer’s disease, so a healthy diet, and a sensible exercise routine will keep your mind and your body fit and functioning, and serving you well into your older, wiser years.
Note: Please be clear that you should If you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have experienced stroke, cardiac arrest, or are prone to blood clotting, you should avoid vitamin K2 supplementation higher than the RDA (65 mcg) unless specifically recommended and monitored by your physician.